City of the Dead – I liked this riff quite a bit. As a kid, I remember one of the things that scared me the most in movies was the notion of Satanic human sacrifice. Young Sherlock Holmes has this really goofy Ancient Egypt themed cult in an underground wooden pyramid where they boiled pretty girls alive to the Egyptian Devil or whatever, and it absolutely terrified me. City of the Dead is great because it takes one of the few concepts that legitimately scares the hell out of me and made it as goofy and as unbelievable as possible. During the sacrifice scene, the girl is actually selling it quite well. She is terrified of these people who really aren't that terrifying and who look like they really couldn't care less. If it were me, I'd be all "I put on my burlesque outfit for THIS?!" And what makes it all the better is that upon learning that she is most likely dead, the people who are supposed to care are very annoyed that they have to take time out of their oh-so-busy lives, being 35-year-old students at a for-profit college studying TV/VCR repair, to investigate her disappearance. So way to go, City of the Dead. You made me laugh at one of my worst nightmares. Cheers!
Zindy, the Swamp Boy – Here's the movie in a nutshell. The cougar eats Zindy at the end. That's all you gotta know about it. No spoiler warnings, nothing. Zindy gets brutally mauled by the cougar and dies a horrible death while his, um, "girlfriend" watches in stunned terror. Now, don't let this spoiler keep you from watching the riff if you haven't already. Do that. It's a keeper for sure. But when the time comes for Zindy, who has already suffered A LOT over the course of the movie, to become cougar food, you won't be shocked and outraged like I was. I kept waiting for the dream sequence to end. I kept saying "…no, n- No, this isn't how this ends. The cougar eats him? No, this is a dream, there's no way that—WHAT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" Zindy = Dead. The End. Next please.
The Bride and the Beast – How is this for needlessly confusing irony: The Bride and the Beast is to Bride of the Gorilla what Missile to the Moon is to Cat-Women of the Moon. Confused? Nobody would hold it against you if you were. Missile to the Moon is a 1958 B-Movie rip-off of the 1953 B-Movie Cat-Women of the Moon. Without getting too deep into it, there really was no good reason to rip-off a 50s B-Movie that was already stupid and boring and having the result being even worse. The Bridge and the Beast and Bride of the Gorilla have the EXACT SAME RELATIONSHIP! Although they also ripped off several elements from Bloodlust!, the fact of both having a recently married woman being assaulted by a gorilla and having the title reflect this is the more troubling factor. But you gotta choose your battles, I suppose. It's also the second time in a row somebody on RiffTrax was needlessly mauled to death by a wild jungle cat, only the cougar was switched out for a tiger this time around. Coincidence? …yeah, probably. And despite the script being written by Ed Wood, nobody balled in up in Albuquerque.
Yambaó – I honestly had no idea what the hell to make of this. The riff was great, but the movie was just… bizarre. If Jar Jar Binks and Angela Bassett's character from American Horror Story: Coven had a freak baby it would be less subtle than the lead actress's performance.
RiffTrax Live: Sharknado – I'll admit, going into this one, I was very skeptical. I hadn't seen Sharknado before and I didn't want to. I felt it was one of those "bad on purpose" kinds of movies, and when that happens things just get elevated to a whole new level of bad. And not the fun kind of bad, the kind of bad that makes you angry. See also: Birdemic 2. That being said, when Mike, Kevin and Bill all got together on Mike's living room couch and announced the selection for the July show, I groaned and said "oh, man, I don't want to watch THAT!" But I resigned myself to it, saying that it would be a worthwhile outing, if for no other reason than every RiffTrax Live show ends up being one of the most fun nights of the year.
AND HEY WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT! I was wrong.
Not only was I wrong, I could not possibly have been wronger! Not wrong about being one of the most fun nights of the year, I was right about THAT! I was wrong in thinking that Sharknado was bad on purpose, because upon watching it I realized that NOBODY sets out to make something THAT STUPID! And it was the absolute best movie to start the season off with. Mike, Kevin, Bill and the guys were at the top of their game that night, recording more LOLs than Starship Troopers had a year prior, and that's quite an achievement. It got my personal vote for Live Show of the Year, but that honor went to an upcoming riff.
I also had a LOL moment of my own that night, believe it or not, and I wasn't even trying. I kept getting annoyed at Girl-Quint's constant declarations of hating sharks and yelling at people for looking at her sharkbite scars. This got on my nerves because DESPITE the scars being on her legs, not so far away from her ass, she never took steps to wear anything besides short-shorts or bikini bottoms. Had she actually put on some damn pants, it wouldn't have been a g—damn, m—ther f—ing problem, something I had leaned over and told my sister several times. Finally she yelled at some goober one too many times and I just yelled at the screen "THEN MAYBE CONSIDER WEARING PANTS!" And the entire theater laughed. Score one for me. There's no other place I can tell that story where people would actually care, so that's why I'm saying it here. Thanks for indulging me.
The Last Slumber Party – The Last Slumber Party represents quite a bit about RiffTrax in 2014. We started out with Terror at Tenkiller, then upped the game with Sisters of Death, but it was TLSP that really takes 80s girls-getting-killed terror to the level of absolute bad movie and riffing excellence. None of the characters are likable, ESPECIALLY the girl who is supposed to be the heroine. I guess her whiny, insulting nature combined with her baffling excessive usage of dated slurs was supposed to make us care whether or not she died. And she DID die! MULTIPLE TIMES! And I honestly don't know how much of the movie was a dream and how much wasn't, or even who's dream it was supposed to be. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Scalpel Guy was out for blood and, quite frankly, I couldn't blame him.
Not to blow my own horn, but I've been known to do some RiffTrax fanart from time to time. I did this one for TLSP, and Kevin and Mike responded with their own opinions of the movie.
So yeah, I'm going to plant my flag and declare this my favorite riff of the year. And, OMG! Since I'm the editor, that would make this riff the winner of the inaugural Editor's Choice Award! HOW ABOUT THAT, SHELLY HACK?!
Scared to Death – We haven't had a good Bela Lugosi riff in a while, so what better way to follow-up King of Kong Island. Matthew J. Elliott and Ian Potter put in another solid performance together, further developing their chemistry as the go-to team for RiffTrax Presents, due respect to Cole and Janet, whom we also unconditionally love and can't get enough of. I really hope we get more from Matt and Ian in 2015 because I think they are developing something extraordinary.
Beast of the Yellow Night – PSH! The werewolf never even bothered to take his shirt off. What the point of having a werewolf if he's going around on-shirted all the time?!
RiffTrax Live: Godzilla – It's no secret that RiffTrax has moved away from what defined it for so many years, and that was the riffing of contemporary films and recent Hollywood blockbusters. This opened the world up to the idea that movie riffing was not limited to the kinds of movies featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the concept flourished unimpeded for more than five years. Then in mid-2011, the focus of RiffTrax began to shift back towards more MST3K type titles, but that doesn't mean the product suffered. Because they spent five years in the land of Blockbusters, they became better writers and performers within the medium as a whole and proved it by taking on the kinds of movies that everybody assumed they had forsaken.
I say all that to say this. It may seem like RiffTrax has forgotten about riffing big Hollywood movies, but that's not entirely true. Since riffing Starship Troopers live in 2013, it appears that Blockbuster riffs are now considered a very special attraction worthy of the audience leaving their homes and going to the cinema to experience it with hundreds of other people. This year there were two such live shows, Godzilla and Anaconda. Sharknado was a tough act to follow, but they not only managed to meet the quality of the previous show, they also surpassed it. The entire experience was electric and it really felt like we were experiencing the RiffTrax equivalent of the SuperBowl or WrestleMania. It truly was the biggest night of the riffing year, and it's no surprise that it gets the Live Show of the Year award.
Dinosaurus! – See, this is another good example of "geez, what the hell do I know?" After Planet of Dinosaurs and The Crater Lake Monster, I would never have thought I would witness even worse dinosaur special effects and associated ridiculous story, but then came Dinosaurus! It also taught me that there is a human being that named a character "Dumpy" and thought that would endear the character to the audience. I kept trying to convince myself that he didn't get that name by doing the only thing that would justify such a moniker. That's just gross.